Nov 9, 2020

Equipping Residents with Resilience Preparedness

Our Youth Ambassadors filled 300 sandbags!
Our Youth Ambassadors filled 300 sandbags!

Connecting, Engaging, and Equipping Residents with Resilience Preparedness

The LTRG offers free workshops to local organizations and congregations seeking to equip their members with preparedness for potential disasters. This quarter, two virtual workshops titled Preparedness Is Personal; Preparedness Is Us” were conducted for approximately 30 participants. The workshops' goal is to promote a cultural change from one of reaction to one of preparedness--not only for hurricanes but for any disaster that could come our way.

Our Youth Ambassadors, along with the LTRG team, partnered with the Department of Public Works in August to fill sandbags in anticipation of the 2020 Hurricane Season. More than 300 bags were filled!

Collaboration is the Key
In partnership with Guayabal Community Foundation, Inc., a member of the Puerto Rican Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (PR VOAD) in Puerto Rico, the LTRG linked a COVID-19 Community Food Distribution Drive to participants in the community. One hundred donated boxes filled with cheese, butter, milk, fresh produce (celery, tomatoes, bananas, mangoes, bags of apples, potatoes, figs), and 10 pounds of chicken were distributed to over 150 families, as some of the boxes were split and shared.

Many of the recipients served are cancer patients, elderly residents, single parents with children, and families still living under blue tarps from the 2017 Hurricane Maria. Distribution took place throughout several areas on St. Croix, reaching from the East to the West end of the island.

Caring for the most vulnerable of our population is a top priority for the St. Croix LTRG team.  We partnered with AARP Virgin Islands, the St. Thomas Long Term Recovery Group, Love City Strong in St. John, the VI VOAD, and the Department of Human Services to assemble and distribute 885 Emergency Preparedness Kits for our senior population territory-wide. The kits included flashlights, first aid kits, a whistle to signal for help, dust masks, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, insect repellent, an emergency blanket, and toilet paper. Local businesses and families rallied around this project with monetary contributions and assembly support to provide these supplies throughout the territory. The distribution per island was as follows: 500 seniors on St. Croix, 260 Seniors on St. Thomas, 125 Seniors on St. John. Each Program Manager on each island distributed the kits to seniors individually to avoid mass gatherings and promote safe social distancing during COVID-19.

Disaster Case Management
Disaster Case Managers (DCMs) are the life-line for disaster recovery in helping families access resources to recovery. During this reporting period, 101 clients were served, including two new enrollees into the program. Services continue to focus on providing financial assistance, service referrals, advocacy, and comprehensive goal setting. The program aims to attract residents whose homes are still in need of repair from damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 to assist them with any help they may need for a return to normalcy and maneuvering the requirements of different funding opportunities.

Twenty-four cases were closed this reporting cycle. Service coordination contributed to one long-standing client finally accessing a new apartment through Section 8.  This disabled client was referred after the hurricane when the landlord increased rent beyond the capacity to pay while refusing to make storm-related repairs. With the threat of homelessness looming due to the expiration of the state of emergency for eviction expiring later this year, the DCM team found a funding source to pay a portion of the moving fees, enabling the client to move.

There are currently 54 clients awaiting the Envision Tomorrow program, which provides home repairs through a federally funded program. Progress has been made in acquiring information on the steps to approve home repairs through this program. We anticipate these clients being able to continue to move toward restoration, with DCM support and guidance. One family member spoke fondly of the DCM that helped her mother recover from the storm damage:

Mother’s home was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria and despite the damages, she was forced to continue to live in the dwelling. She is a senior and appreciates her independence but struggled to go through the recovery process. She had been living in the damaged home since the hurricane and we feared for her health because of the extent of the damages. We pursued all available avenues we could find but did not get any solution. Our DCM was able to obtain funds for the necessary repairs to make the home comfortable, safe, sanitary, and secure and our mother was able to regain her life and independence.”

Unmet Needs Committee
The Unmet Needs Committee fills a critical role in disaster recovery. When a Disaster Case Manager has exhausted all resources available to a beneficiary and needs are still not met, the Unmet Needs Committee steps in to fill the gap.

With the closing of the Rebuild Program, funding was shifted to the Unmet Needs Committee to continue to support our clients. Two cases have been funded this reporting cycle:

Case 1 is a 77-year-old disabled St. Croix resident that has been living in a home severely damaged by Hurricane Maria for the past three years. This client is in poor health and legally blind. The client sustained total roof damage that resulted in massive leaks throughout the home and damage to the windows, doors, and tiled floors. The electrical wiring throughout the home sustained major damage from water entering the circuitry. Although some progress has been made, the home still has significant repairs that need to be completed to make the home livable, safe, sanitary, and secure. The Unmet Needs Committee will provide funding for the contractor fees to repair the electrical system in the home, replace damaged windows and exterior doors, and repair cracks in the interior load-bearing walls.

Case 2 is an 82-year-old St. Croix retired senior resident that sustained major damage to their home during Hurricane Maria. The damage included total loss of the roof, damaged kitchen, bathroom, windows, and floors due to the home being flooded. All appliances and furniture inside the home were destroyed. The home is still without a functioning kitchen. The Unmet Needs Committee will provide funding for the contractor to install kitchen cabinets and a sink.

Making A Difference…
The St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group is an organization committed to making a crucial difference in the lives of our community stakeholders, one life, one business, one mind at a time. While emergency relief and even intermediate recovery and survival absorb resources for the first one to two years, we believe that our community is now in a stage where it is truly able to build independence and resilience for the future. As such, the time is now to engage our communities like never before, and we thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with us now and into the future!

 

 

Helping residents stay safe through Covid!
Helping residents stay safe through Covid!
AARP &the LTRG- helping seniors with health kits!
AARP &the LTRG- helping seniors with health kits!
Oct 30, 2020

CONSORTIUM DRIVES VISION AROUND RESILIENCE

Our Consortium is Driving an Equitable Vision!
Our Consortium is Driving an Equitable Vision!

This past September, St. Croix Foundation for Community Development celebrated 30 years of service and leadership in the U.S. Virgin Islands. That milestone is possible due to many collaborations and supporters and we wish to extend our deepest appreciation to our friends at GlobalGiving. Together, we have achieved much in just the past three years since Hurricanes Maria and Irma. As the People of the Virgin Islands continue to recover and build capacity for resilience, your support of our Nonprofit Consortium has been inspirational and impactful.

Through our Nonprofit Consortium, we have made deep impact in systemically stressed sectors of our civil society but most importantly, the Foundation is fostering the will and the people power to strengthen and sustain local civic organizations.

Today, the stark reality for our community, and so many like ours, is that the perfect storm of local, regional, national, and global crises requires the civic sector to step forward as never before.  Thanks to the support of GlobalGiving, our Nonprofit Consortium is creating space and providing the resources necessary for nurturing a movement of transformation that is grounded in equity.

Taking a stand on equity and empowering the civic sector
Over the course of the past quarter, the Nonprofit Consortium has been busy! In all, 29 grassroots and formal local nonprofits have convened 11 times to analyze the data from recent surveys on nonprofit capacity as relates to the needs surrounding Covid-19. Representing the sectors of Health & Human Welfare, the Environs, Education, and Arts, Culture, and Crucian Heritage, our NPC is sparking conversations on equity.

Position Statement on Racial Equity: Building Momentum along with Capacity
As a coalition of 30 nonprofits, the Nonprofit Consortium has coalesced to drive innovative systems change. As we seek to drive systems change and investments to support civil society in the US Virgin Islands, below please find our NPC Positioning Statement, which was compiled collectively in July 2020, amidst COVID-19 and the 2020 Racial Justice Movement:  

  1. The social and economic injustices that philanthropy and civil society aims to solve are rooted in institutional policies and practices that give advantages to white people and disadvantage black and brown people. 
  2. To attain freedom, justice, and equity for all, we must harness our collective voice to uncover the similarities between disenfranchised communities of color much like our own, in arenas such as public health (which includes medical and behavioral), education, housing, criminal justice, and advocacy for systems change in the nonprofit sector.
  3. Localized system change is about achieving equity and freedom against the backdrop of the legacy of colonialism and enslavement.
  4. True progress requires that place-based nonprofits tool themselves and take a position at the programmatic and policy level to address the needs of the times.

In mid-September, sectors of the Nonprofit Consortium presented their work and positioning statement to 10 community stakeholders and media reps from local print and online outlets.

2nd Biannual Nonprofit Consortium Forum for Political Candidates
Also in September, the Nonprofit Consortium, hosted by St. Croix Foundation for Community Development, held a virtual nonprofit convening for political aspirants. Sixteen members of the civic sector shared their joint positioning statement regarding their collective work for the community-at-large.

Representatives from Health & Human Welfare, the Environs, Education, and Arts, Culture, and Crucian Heritage) presented their sector’s work after which a short Q and A for policymakers and political aspirants followed. Aspirants were not allowed to speak. Each sector presented on how they are serving their clients as frontline responders during disasters and grey skies.  Aspirants were allowed to post questions and comments in the Zoom, and some commented on how various sectors have had an impact on their life as youth and even now. Genevieve Whitaker (Senate Aspirant): “I can attest to the Boys & Girls Club’s role in my development as a young girl.” Senator Novelle Francis: “I very much appreciated the presentations this evening and the extensive work of NCP. It was informational and educational.” Samuel Carrion (Senate Aspirant): “I want to thank NPC and all its members for the great collective work it's doing to bring societal change in all sectors of our community.”

In October, after meeting with media and political aspirants and on behalf of the Nonprofit Consortium, St. Croix Foundation President, Deanna James, shared the NPC’s Community-Centric Vision and Position on Racial Equity with the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority. While the EDA is currently working on a strategic plan for its 2040 Vision Initiative, the Foundation and the Consortium know all too well that a Vision or Plan on a piece of paper will not garner the requisite community buy-in or gain traction in implementation if it is not rooted in an honest assessment of what a community values most. In the end, if the intention is to create a credible Vision, developing attendant strategies to make that Vision actionable are vital.

Thank you!
Today, the Nonprofit Consortium (NPC) is a dynamic demonstration of the critical importance of civil society in the overall health and well-being of a community. It is a model of collaboration and innovation that can sustain some of the most isolated communities through these unprecedented times.

The Consortium provides support island-wide!
The Consortium provides support island-wide!
Oct 7, 2020

INVESTING IN COMMUNITY RESILIENCE

A young inventor with his solar charging station!
A young inventor with his solar charging station!

The month of September was another huge milestone for the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands and so many coastal communities. Together, we marked three years since Hurricanes Maria and Irma hit the islands in 2017. We’ve accomplished much. But the realities of Covid-19 while we await the ending of the 2020 Hurricane Season remind us of the complex vulnerabilities of a predominantly Black, isolated American Island ‘territory’ (i.e. Colony) with no vote. Those vulnerabilities make us work even harder at St. Croix Foundation because we know that the stakes are high. And we also know that our vision of a safe and thriving Virgin Islands is possible.

In this report, you’ll read about the potential we have tapped in our young people. You’ll read about the undauntable spirit of farmers whose businesses are getting a new boost and volunteers who carry the passion of community and motivate civic engagement.  And behind all of this are the partners that make the impossible possible. Thank you to our friends and family at GlobalGiving. You are testimony that together we can (and do) make a difference.

100% Full-time Employment for Workforce Development Students

At a time in history when unemployment rates are at an all-time high, our Solar-Supported Community Center and Workforce Development Initiative represents a philanthropic triumph that can serve as a community model all over the globe. Beyond providing an opportunity to rebuild more sustainably and resilient in the aftermath of historic Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the program's ultimate goal of providing a high-quality workforce training opportunity for unemployed youth has been fully achieved and the model is proven.

Today, we are pleased to report that in just one year, ALL nine students in our program (100% of our graduates) have received national certification in solar installation and ALL are now fully employed in their field of study. We also want to share recent news that two participants have been promoted to Team Lead, and one is training in Tesla power walls. As the first cohort of solar students in the Territory, they also installed the first solar system on the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the Virgin Islands.

Since the Solar-Supported Community Center Project was officially launched in June 2019, we’ve been keeping you updated on the progress of our students and the outcomes of our strategic grantmaking of a solar PV system to community centers around the island. We are also delighted that, through GlobalGiving funding, the solar system for Flambouyant Gardens for Senior Assisted Living has been procured and, despite delays surrounding Covid-19, is scheduled for installation on October 12, 2020.  Located mid-island on St. Croix and serving 56 senior residents, the center was chosen based on its response to the 2017 hurricanes, the population it serves, and where it is located on the island.

The Foundation will be tapping our solar workforce students to conduct the final installation after comprehensive inspections on Flambouyant Gardens has been completed and modifications have been determined. Given the circumstances surrounding Covid-19, the Foundation is taking extra steps to ensure compatibility between the system and the center for smooth installation.

This pilot Initiative has proven that demand exists in the Virgin Islands for a local, skilled workforce in green energy, as is evidenced by our hire rate to date. And, as most of St. Croix Foundation’s projects, the Solar-Supported Community Center and Workforce Development Initiative is designed to serve as a model for how to nurture relevant workforce development that builds capacity for resilience and energy independence. Working closely with our first solarized center, the Foundation projects to have data on usage and savings to share.

As one of the few occupations expected to see exponential growth throughout the Caribbean, there is significant pressure on the Foundation to replicate this program with a new cohort of students. While this was our initial intention, the realities of Covid and the cost of running the program with fidelity have forced us to put a temporary pause on opening a 2nd cycle.

Grantee Update: Nurturing Capacity in the Next Generation

Last November, we reported on the work of one of our grantees, a graduating senior who had invented a solar charging station in the wake of the 2017 Hurricanes. Kieran, one of our CARE Fund grantees and partners, wanted to build a prototype of the station for his community that would also fulfill a requirement for his final and rigorous service project to graduate as an Eagle Scout.

Designed to be mobilized throughout neighborhoods during times of crisis, the station can be used to charge phones, radios, and any medical equipment such as insulin testers that are rechargeable. Not only did Kieran build it, but he presented his working prototype to an audience of 300 at the 2019 Coconut Festival, designed a brochure, and created a video on how to build the self-sufficient, solar-powered, weather-resistant satellite communication hotspot and charging station. He also taught youth from the local community center how to build the stations to ensure this exploratory project's sustainability.

Today, we are incredibly happy to report that we’ve recently heard from Kieran, and he has received his final badge and is an official Eagle Scout. This is a difficult challenge and requires a total of 21 merit badges. Kieran’s work didn’t just impress the Foundation -  it was also showcased on the official Eagle Scout pagehere: https://eagleprojects.boyslife.org/solar-satellite-solution/

As an example of the Foundation’s strategic grantmaking, this is a special grant with almost unlimited leverage points – from youth skills and leadership development to nurturing public awareness and resilience building.

Next Steps for Farm Tiendas as Resilience Hubs

As another example of the Foundation’s strategic grantmaking and programming, you may recall that we granted 7 durable steel containers to farmers to serve as “Farm Tiendas” or farm stands to help stabilize their business and serve as a resilience hub during grey skies. Despite continued delays surrounding Covid-19, we are happy to report that we have been able to pivot as necessary to keep activating components of this initiative while also ensuring the safety of all participants.

To date, all containers have been delivered and all are in full operation! While we had to postpone solarizing the Farm Tiendas due to Covid-19, all systems have arrived, and installation will begin in October. Additionally, all farmers have met with an engineer who has provided a comprehensive report on the steps needed to secure Farm Tiendas, in each unique location, for the long-term. The Foundation has also provided tie-down kits and rust spray as an extra level of protection during the 2020 hurricane season, a value of $4200 to each farmer. Over the summer, each farmer also received a water buffalo with a capacity to store 1000 gallons during blue and grey skies.

As a side note, we would be remiss to not mention that our contracted engineer, Kareem, was one of the first members of the Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council- a youth leadership development body of high school students launched in 2009. Today, Kareem is a Mechanical Engineer and living demonstration of the impact of our holistic approach to philanthropy and community development.

The Farm Tienda is yet another economic and resilience model that the Foundation is tracking – how it was developed, lessons learned, and how to leverage local resources for measurable outcomes around food security The Foundation looks forward to the next phase, during which Farm Tiendas will be solarized and data collection on how the Farm Tiendas function will become a priority.

AmeriCorps VISTAS Making Connections for Preparedness

In past reports, St. Croix Foundation has reported to you on the exciting program to bring 15 VISTA volunteers to serve nonprofits on St. Croix. This is boots-on-the-ground support for nonprofits, who are working over capacity to serve a community with increased needs, that has a tangible impact. Once again, due to Covid-19, our recruitment and placement schedule was interrupted. However, the Foundation has successfully recruited and assigned 6 AmeriCorps VISTA members to support 4 nonprofit organizations: Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls of the VI, St. Croix Long Term Recovery Groups, Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, and St. Croix Landmarks Society. The early stages of recruiting were challenging, but each organization has been determined to utilize this opportunity to drive change in their respective organizations.

Thanks to a generous grant from GlobalGiving’s Cruzan Island Spirit Fund to help subsidize housing costs for our volunteers, we continue our quest to recruit 8 more members and a VISTA leader. With assistance from FEMA, St. Croix Foundation was able to secure a booth and collect names of interested volunteers for the AmeriCorps VISTA program. There were over 500 attendees at this event. SCF also applied and received support for the U.S. Dept of Interior: Office of Insular Affairs. This support focuses on training and technical support for VISTAs. St. Croix Foundation has also been working with FEMA as they developed the Community Response Plan (CRP). In May VISTAs received training on how to use the recovery tool. And despite Covid-19, our VISTAS are connecting with each other, their community, and the broader field of philanthropy.

One of our VISTA volunteers for the St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group, Rosalie, epitomizes the spirit of AmeriCorps VISTAs and the Virgin Islands. A local resident, cancer survivor, and senior volunteer, Rosalie was previously supporting LTRG with recruiting volunteers for housing rebuilds but had to switch roles due to Covid-19. Today, she is conducting surveys for the St. Croix Community Response Plan. Rosalie is one of the biggest advocates for the AmeriCorps VISTA program. In addition to her work with LTRG she continues to share the available VISTA opportunities with young people at the American Red Cross and has presented to the St. Croix Retiree Association, Virgin Islands VOAD,  as well as the St. Croix COAD Executive, Youth, and Unmet Needs Committees. She also presents at monthly Town Halls, where she is a champion to engage more local VISTAs, citing obvious benefits to the local residents on the individual and community level.

Starting with Community…

Despite being an unendowed, small community foundation serving an under-served, under-resourced community, Hurricanes Irma and Maria afforded St. Croix Foundation the opportunity to demonstrate the worth and impact of our philanthropic approach. Having just celebrated our 30th anniversary this past September, our leadership journey is one we believe can inform burgeoning philanthropies in developing communities around the world. Over the past three decades, St. Croix Foundation has learned a lot. Principally, that there is abundance amid scarcity and that often the assets we are searching for are untapped gems in our own communities. To learn  more about our approach, we invite you to read our President’s 30th Anniversary Message at http://www.stxfoundation.org/a-message-from-the-president-on-the-foundations-30th-anniversary/

 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.